District decides against airing president’s speech

By on September 9, 2009

by Susan O’Neill
President Obama addressed students in many schools across the country on Tuesday, but some schools opted not to show the speech, including those in the Kaneland School District.

Citing the lack of adequate technology to broadcast the speech live to all students at the same time, Kaneland administrators decided against a general showing of the speech, but said they told teachers they could show the speech in specific situations where it fit in with certain curriculum topics.

“The Kaneland School District will not be broadcasting the speech live, primarily because, similar to many school districts, Kaneland does not have the consistent technological capability across all schools to broadcast the speech to all students simultaneously via television or internet or any combination thereof,” the district announced Friday in a press release on its website.

Associate Superintendent Jeff Schuler said that as a general practice, the schools do not air messages to the students where they do not have a chance to pre-screen them first.

In the e-mail the district sent to parents, he said that once the administration hears the speech, it may be “very appropriate for sharing with our students, either partially or in its entirety.”

Schuler said the administration had received contacts from a number of parents about the speech, who expressed a fear that the message could be inappropriate.

“Some parents believe it’s part of a political agenda,” Schuler said.

According to Schuler, although they also received contacts from some parents who wanted the speech aired to students, the calls and e-mails were more heavily weighted against it.

Schuler said the administration’s decision was not based on input from parents or others who contacted them.
“It’s what we considered to be sound educational practices,” he said.

Kaneland John Shields Elementary School principal Shelley Hueber said that in addition to the technology limitations of the district, they decided that at the elementary grade level, the speech did not have the relevance to the curriculum to warrant showing it to the students.

Hueber said she had also received calls and e-mails from parents voicing their opposition to showing the speech, some of them who were “very, very strongly against it.”

“Some parents said they did not want their children exposed to any political propaganda, and that they would take their child out of school if we showed it,” she said.

Diane Baker, who has a daughter who is a senior in high school, said she had mixed feelings about showing the speech to the students. Although she was not sure exactly what the president was going to say, she said she liked having her daughter informed.

“She’s tired of hearing it (how important education is) from me,” she said. “Maybe it’s good for her to hear it from someone else.”

Parent Lori McCaffrey said she felt the technology issues might have been the administration’s way of gracefully side-stepping the issue of some of the parents’ concerns.

“I don’t know what pressure they’ve gotten in the last few days. It makes me sad,” she said. “We’re so paranoid that we’re afraid to listen to the president. I don’t understand what they thought he was going to say.”

Anne Gorenz’ children are in sixth and eighth grades. Gorenz said she thought the school had more important issues to worry about, such as the dress code, foul language and respect for their elders.

School Board President Lisa Wiet said she preferred not to comment in her role as a member of the board. She said the board was not involved in the decision.

“It’s not my call,” she said.

She said that as a parent, she thinks it is a message the students need to hear at some point.

“It’s very much in keeping with the district’s mission,” she said. “It’s a very positive message.”

Key points of president’s speech
• Stay in school
• Study hard
• Your education is your
own responsibility
• Set your own goals for
your education and work hard
to meet them
• Don’t let your failures define
you; let them teach you
• The country needs you
to solve our most difficult
• Each of you has something
you’re good at and that you
have to offer; your
responsibility is to find
out what that is through
your education
• Never give up on yourself


  1. flying spaghetti monster

    September 9, 2009 at 5:48 PM

    So the right wing nuts say a message of stay in school and work hard to achieve your goals is inappropriate. Interesting.

  2. oceanbluemomma

    September 11, 2009 at 3:53 PM

    I am outraged at the total disrespect by the school district in making the decision not to air the President’s speech. Technically – majority of the classrooms have online access – this could have been viewed. This elected official – the person running our country was not allowed to talk to our students out of fear of what he was going to say. Has everyone lost their marbles??? Seriously – he has 2 kids of his own, listening. What fool(s)at our board of education for Kaneland believed this was going to be a problem. How are you going to demand respect from your students through rules and principle, when they won’t allow respect given to our president by simply listening to his simple but truthful message. I am so thrilled we homeschool – the district has proven once again how backwards it is. Shame on you Kaneland School District!

  3. Hobbs

    September 13, 2009 at 6:10 PM

    Here’s an idea, Barack. Next year, instead of interrupting the kids who are IN school, why don’t you interrupt the Jerry Springer show with a very brief message: “Hey, dummy, get your kids to school!”

  4. concernedelburncitizen

    October 11, 2009 at 4:55 PM

    Ocean blue Momma,
    Watch it on youtube, we dont want our kids watching “the socialists”

  5. oceanbluemomma

    October 15, 2009 at 12:25 PM

    So you think having someone encourage kids to stay in school, that they are the future of the nation is “socialist propaganda”. I can’t stop laughing and the fact that you are encouraging me to go on to “youtube” where they allow pretty much anything in video form. I so hope you have put controls on that website so your kids can’t watch that, porn, or kid beatings each other, or any of the other unspeakable things going on in the world that are shown on that site, in addition to the president speaking. You are contradicting yourself with your suggestion.

  6. oceanbluemomma

    October 15, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    Your statement really got me thinking about socialist propoganda…From comparing Obama’s speech to that, I realized you do not know what that means. Here is Wikipedia’s meaning of socialist propoganda:


  7. concernedelburncitizen

    October 15, 2009 at 5:47 PM

    I said the “socialist’s” propaganda not socialist propoganda.
    The “socialist” is refering to the president of our great nation who is taking over banks, car companies, healthcare, and anything else he grab before he is ousted. He is trying to grab as much power and control he possibly can and put it under government control.
    Definition of socialism—socialists share the view that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital and derives its wealth through exploitation, creates an unequal society, does not provide equal opportunities for everyone to maximise their potentialities[4] and does not utilise technology and resources to their maximum potential nor in the interests of the public.
    And Propaganda—here is the Youtube you should watch on propaganda===http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF3hfPWoElk

  8. oceanbluemomma

    October 16, 2009 at 9:19 AM

    So again, a bit of a twist on the definitions of those words, but what does that have do with the president, regardless of party or views, telling the kids to stay in school and they are the future? What makes that socialist? Or their propaganda? It doesn’t.